Super Street Network

 |   |  FAB Design, TechArt, & Sportec Porsche Panamera - Trifecta

FAB Design, TechArt, & Sportec Porsche Panamera - Trifecta

Three aftermarket takes on Porsche's sports car saloon

Ian Kuah
Jul 27, 2010 SHARE

The events of the days leading up to the meeting of these three tuned Panameras read like a suspense novel. In fact, some aspects that played out were so bizarre, you couldn't make it up.

Epcp_1009_01_o+three+panameras Photo 2/24   |   FAB Design, TechArt, & Sportec Porsche Panamera - Trifecta

It all started back in March, when my friend and fellow European contributor Matt Davis suggested we do a shootout between as many tuned Panameras as we could muster. I liked the sound of that, so we divided up our preliminary list and began to ring around.

It was a big ask to fill our initial six-car list, so we agreed that happiness would be five cars. Realistically, we'd probably find four tuner versions of Porsche's super saloon turning up on the big day.

OEMs use press fleets from which they can allocate cars whose sole mission in life is to service the media. As much as they'd like to do the same, tuners simply do not have the resources. Invariably, the cars you see on their show stands are always for sale, or are customer cars that have to be delivered as soon as possible.

In this case, some of the cars weren't going to be ready on time. And then the Icelandic volcano decided to throw a tantrum. Rather than trying to fight the universe, we pushed the date back two weeks.

Epcp_1009_02_o+two+panameras Photo 3/24   |   FAB Design, TechArt, & Sportec Porsche Panamera - Trifecta

A week before the rescheduled shootout date, we had confirmations from FAB Design, Oakley Design, Sportec, and TechArt, and an "if it isn't sold" from Lumma Design.

The logistics of shooting four Panameras on public highways were daunting, and as Mercedes had kindly lent us its Malmsheim test track for an unrelated story, it made sense to assemble the Panameras there too.

Then it all started to go south. The Friday before, we were informed that Lumma had sold its car. But the bigger shock came on Sunday, the day before I was due to leave for Germany, when I was told that the Oakley Design car had been stolen in Spain.

Luckily, from then on, everything else began to fall into place. The three remaining Panameras turned up on cue, and the rain forecast by the weatherman held off.

FAB Design
FAB Design is famous for its Mercedes conversions, so it was a big surprise to see a white, widebody Panamera next to SL and SLR conversions at last December's Dubai Motor Show.

Epcp_1009_03_o+fab_design+panamera Photo 4/24   |   FAB Design, TechArt, & Sportec Porsche Panamera - Trifecta

"Some of my Middle Eastern customers had just acquired Panameras and asked me to do something radical for their cars," explains FAB Design boss Roland Rysanek. "Although we are very successful with Mercedes, it is getting harder to survive with just one brand, and as the demand is there, my next step will be a special Cayenne."

Of the three Panameras in this group, the FAB Design car is the one that turns heads and stops people dead in their tracks. Its body styling is so radical that it tones down the Panamera's hump-backed rear. This was Rysanek's first design objective.

"The most important thing was to change the proportions, particularly at the rear," he says. "To my eyes, it's too long in relation it its height and width, so I had to change that relationship with wider wheel arches that also give the car a more purposeful stance. A small but important detail is the concealed rear door handles that give the car the appearance of a four-door sports coupe."

At this end of the market, clients want only the best and are willing to pay for it. Thus, the new front and rear wings and bumpers are made from carbon fiber, while the side skirts are molded from a carbon-composite material.

Epcp_1009_05_o+fab_design+wheels Photo 5/24   |   FAB Design, TechArt, & Sportec Porsche Panamera - Trifecta

The front fenders are bolted to the factory mounting points, while rears require cutting into the panels and bonding the flares to the sheet metal. The flamboyant rear wing looks fixed, but still rises via the factory motor at 75 mph. The diffuser under the rear valance is functional, and flanks the unique triple exhaust outlet array.

Filling out the huge wheel arches are FAB Design's new deeply offset 22-inch alloy wheels unique to their Panamera. These are shod with 265/30 and 325/25 Pirelli P Zero rubber.

SHARE ARTICLE

From a distance, and in bright sunlight, the paintwork looks like metallic black, but get closer and its distinct purplish hue becomes obvious. An accurate description would be deep brown black metallic, a classy warm shade that contrasts perfectly with the cream and gold interior.

Epcp_1009_06_o+fab_design+exhaust Photo 6/24   |   FAB Design, TechArt, & Sportec Porsche Panamera - Trifecta

The cream leather is embellished with gold-colored ostrich leather highlights on the dashboard, center console, steering wheel, seat edges, and door armrests and tops rolls. The wood inlays on the steering wheel, dashboard, and doors are lacquered piano black.

A most bizarre change, however, are pointy extensions to the shoulder height seat supports, where the new upholstery is supported by metal extensions to the base seat frames. While FAB Design has done enlarged shoulder supports on Mercedes seats before, these are more radical.

A finishing touch that we could not see in the daytime is the LED lights that light up the area beside the seats. These have a dimming switch so you can turn them up or down at night for the desired effect.

Where Sportec had been able to lower its Sport Chrono Package-equipped car a further 30mm via the suspension ECU controller, the FAB Design car has to remain at stock ride height so that the massive wheels and tires do not touch the arches.

Epcp_1009_09_o+fab_design+spoiler Photo 7/24   |   FAB Design, TechArt, & Sportec Porsche Panamera - Trifecta

With almost all the tuners still battling with the protection codes of the new Siemens ECU that controls the Panamera's motor and gearbox functions, major remaps that take in larger turbos and other major hardware changes are not yet on the table.

Thus, both the FAB Design and TechArt cars came with just 50 hp extra courtesy of lower backpressure sport exhausts and very basic ECU remaps. Both cars also lacked the Sport Chrono Package that allows overboost on the engine and the Sport Plus suspension setting.

SCP makes a huge difference to the perceived and actual performance of the car. While Porsche's overboost mapping does not increase peak horsepower, it increases peak torque by 10 percent for 10 seconds, and improves throttle response and acceleration when you need it most, like when overtaking. From a subjective point of view, it also has the effect of making the car feel more focused and aggressive.

As the Moroccan owner of the FAB Design Panamera will use the car for cruising the streets of Casablanca, the absence of SCP is not an issue. But for the other two, whose customers are more performance-centric, it certainly would be.

FAB Design Panamera

Layout
Longitudinal front engine, all-wheel dive

Epcp_1009_04_o+fab_design+panamera_rear Photo 8/24   |   FAB Design, TechArt, & Sportec Porsche Panamera - Trifecta

Engine
4.2-liter V8, dohc, 32-valve, turbocharged. Sport exhaust, ECU remap

Wheels and Tires
FAB Design alloys, 10x22 (f), 12x22 (r), Pirelli P Zero, 265/30 (f), 325/25 (r)

Exterior
Carbon front fenders, carbon rear fender flares, carbon diffuser, carbon-composite side skirts, rear wing

Interior
Cream-and-gold leather upholstery, piano black wood inserts, LED mood lighting

Performance
Peak Power: 550 hp @ 6000 rpm
Peak Torque: 516 lb-ft @ 2250 rpm
0-62 mph: 4.1 sec.
Top Speed: 182 mph

TechArt
We were surprised that the TechArt car lacked the Sport Chrono Package, which the Sportec car made the most of. It transpired that the previous TechArt demo car, which had more goodies, including SCP, was sold a couple of weeks before and this new car was quickly fitted with wheels and body kit to meet our deadline.

Epcp_1009_11_o+techart+panamera Photo 12/24   |   FAB Design, TechArt, & Sportec Porsche Panamera - Trifecta

TechArt's Aero Kit One kit is subtle and classy. The three-piece PU-RIM front spoiler lip visually matches the more heavily sculpted side skirts. The new rear valance, with its rear diffuser, flanks TechArt's trademark "linked" exhaust tips.

A rooftop spoiler cleans up the airflow leading to the new fixed rear wing, while small body-colored masks give the rear lights a more dynamic shape. Along with the multi-function daytime running lights in front, these are a nice finishing touch.

SHARE ARTICLE

Where the largest factory wheels stop at 20 inches, TechArt offers 21- and 22-inch versions of the signature five-spoke, multi-piece lightweight forged wheels. Our test car was shod with the 10.5x22-inch wheels of slightly different offsets, shod with 265/30 and 305/25 ContiSportContact 3 rubber.

Epcp_1009_12_o+techart+spoiler Photo 13/24   |   FAB Design, TechArt, & Sportec Porsche Panamera - Trifecta

Interior re-trims and high-tech sound and business equipment installation have always been a TechArt speciality. Unfortunately, the all-black interior of this car tends to undersell its finer qualities, which are not as apparent as they would be against a lighter trim color.

The black lacquer wood trim on the dashboard and doors is matched by glossy black highlights on TechArt's three-spoke sport steering wheel, while the shape of the seats, center console, and dashboard are picked out by contrasting white stitching. White thread is also used on the inside of the steering wheel, but in a cross-stitched pattern.

Epcp_1009_13_o+techart+engine Photo 14/24   |   FAB Design, TechArt, & Sportec Porsche Panamera - Trifecta

The in-car entertainment for rear passengers is provided by a pair of seven-inch LCD monitors mounted on the back of the front seats. Headsets ensure you can hear the soundtrack in all its glory without distracting the driver. The DVD player is hidden away in the side of the luggage compartment.

Incidentally, while TechArt presented a more radical wide-look Concept One at Geneva this year, feedback from TechArt's regular clients toward this more extroverted design has not been positive enough to justify investing in production tooling-even though TechArt boss Thomas Behringer personally likes it.

TechArt Panamera

Layout
Longitudinal front engine, all-wheel drive

Epcp_1009_15_o+techart+panamera_rear Photo 15/24   |   FAB Design, TechArt, & Sportec Porsche Panamera - Trifecta

Engine
4.2-liter V8, dohc, 32-valve, turbocharged. Sport exhaust, ECU remap

Wheels and Tires
TechArt alloys, 10.5x22 Continental ContiSportContact 3, 265/30, 305/22

Exterior
Three-piece front spoiler, side skirts, rear valance and diffuser

Interior
Contrasting stitching, sport steering wheel, DVD rear entertainment system

Performance
Peak Power: 550 hp @ 6000 rpm
Peak Torque: 516 lb-ft @ 2250 rpm
0-62 mph: 4.1 sec.
Top Speed: 190 mph

Sportec
With the minimum of show on the outside and a bog-standard interior, Sportec put more effort into making its Panamera a concentrated driving machine.

Epcp_1009_18_o+sportec+panamera_rear Photo 19/24   |   FAB Design, TechArt, & Sportec Porsche Panamera - Trifecta

With its static ride height lower than the factory Sport Plus setting, the Sport Chrono Package-equipped car has Sportec's ESC (Electronic Suspension Control) module that can drop ride height by up to 35mm. The car is thus noticeably lower than the other two.

Sportec's trademark seven-spoke alloy wheels are 10.5x22-inch all around, and like the TechArt car, use 265/30 and 305/25 ContiSportContact 3 tires. The only other obvious modification from stock is the four purposeful looking 90mm tailpipes of the sport exhaust.

Under the bonnet, the Sportec engine looks absolutely standard, as incidentally, does the FAB Design car. But while a new engine cover is in the works, this engineering-based company has concentrated on giving the motor more guts.

Epcp_1009_20_o+sportec+monitor_in_headrest Photo 20/24   |   FAB Design, TechArt, & Sportec Porsche Panamera - Trifecta

Sportec is the first tuner to crack the protection protocols of the Siemens ECU, and currently offers its clients 560-hp/580 lb-ft Stage One and 575-hp/580 lb-ft Stage Two conversions. Stage Three will involve new turbochargers and bigger intercoolers for 650 hp. Considering how much lighter and more slippery the Panamera is than the Cayenne, this level of power should prove more than adequate.

As it stands, the Sportec car is a real hoot to drive. In Sport Plus mode, it practically spun all four wheels off the line and accelerated hard up the runway at a rate that would have left BMW M5s or E63 AMGs gasping for breath.

The exhaust note is also pretty hardcore. Deep, throbby, bent-crank V8 musclecar hardcore. Lacking Sport Chrono Plus, the other two Panameras, while quick in absolute terms, felt comparatively normal, almost like they had lost their Mojos.

Epcp_1009_23_o+sportec+dash Photo 21/24   |   FAB Design, TechArt, & Sportec Porsche Panamera - Trifecta
SHARE ARTICLE

Ride height and the Sport Chrono Pack make all the difference to steering and handling, too. Similarly equipped, the TechArt car, which wore exactly the same tires on the same size wheels, would have been the Sportec car's equal in the handling stakes. However, on stock suspension sans SCP, it felt less precise in our handling course, with more understeer going into a turn, and less tidy oversteer coming out.

Epcp_1009_21_o+sportec+trim Photo 22/24   |   FAB Design, TechArt, & Sportec Porsche Panamera - Trifecta

The lesson learned here is simply that if you are a keen driver, always tick the Sport Chrono Pack option box when you order a Porsche, any Porsche. Even if you just buy the wheels and body kit from one of these three tuners, without tuning the motor, the SCP is well worth the money.

Despite all the initial drama, we lucked out in the end. The three cars that finally made it to Malmsheim epitomized the spread of different approaches you can take to personalizing a Panamera Turbo.

Epcp_1009_22_o+sportec+seats Photo 23/24   |   FAB Design, TechArt, & Sportec Porsche Panamera - Trifecta

If the FAB Design Panamera is the boulevard cruiser and the Sportec Panamera goes all out to appeal to the keen driver, the car that TechArt brought along walked the fine line between luxury and a sporting drive.

Whichever route you might choose, from hardcore driving to show-boating, you can be sure of one thing. While Porsche's Panamera may not be the prettiest performance saloon out there, the basic excellence of its engine, chassis, and interior make it the perfect basis for a car that can be personalized to meet your exact needs.

Sportec Panamera

Layout
Longitudinal front engine, all-wheel drive

Epcp_1009_19_o+sportec+panamera_front Photo 24/24   |   FAB Design, TechArt, & Sportec Porsche Panamera - Trifecta

Engine
4.2-liter V8, dohc, 32-valve, turbocharged. Sport exhaust, ECU remap

Suspension
Sportec ESC lowering module

Wheels and Tires
Sportec alloys, 10.5x22 Continental ContiSportContact 3, 265/30 (f), 305/25 (r)

Performance
Peak Power: 575 hp @ 6100 rpm
Peak Torque: 583 lb-ft @ 2300 rpm
0-62 mph: 4.0 sec.
Top Speed: 192 mph

SHARE ARTICLE
By Ian Kuah
84 Articles

RELATED ARTICLES

BROWSE CARS BY MARKET

MORE FEATURES

Supercharged Subaru BRZ that's super clean.
Big MikeOct 20, 2014
Creating the mid-engined monster enthusiasts want from Stuttgart
Peter WuOct 19, 2014
More JDM street goodness from Hawaii
Aaron BonkOct 19, 2014
Bay Area-built Evo with all the right stuff
Aaron BonkOct 18, 2014
What happened to the birthplace of the EB110
Matt ZuchowskiOct 17, 2014

SEARCH ARTICLES BY MAKE/MODEL

Search
TO TOP